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  • The Moon, Dolphins, and Kevin Lily

    What do these three images have in common? The beings in each image are smiling! Although that might be true, the commonality I want to point out is water.

    Today is the 40th anniversary of the USA landing on the moon. Where are you going to get drinking water on a trip to the moon? You have to bring it with you. How are you going to make sure that the water doesn't grow nasty things in it during the trip? NASA invented silver ion technology to keep water pure for the astronauts on the 1969 Moon mission. That brings me to the dolphin.

    Dolphins do not tolerate chlorine. It causes their skin to rot. Dolphins in captivity need to be in chlorine-free pools. NASA's invention of silver ion technology for the Moon mission is now used to purify pool water for captive Dolphins. Silver-ion technology kills bacteria and algae. The resulting pool water exceeds the EPA standards for drinking water. Dolphins held captive for research no longer need to worry about chlorine rotting their skin. And that brings me to the third image—Kevin Lily.

    Similar to dolphins, Kevin and two friends (Danielle Katz and Brian Coggan) are mammals who will be spending a lot of time in the water over the next few months. Kevin's group left Bemidji, Minnesota today to travel the length of the Mississippi River. They are raising money for local, national and international charities working to alleviate the global water crisis. Their quest ends on October 10, 2009 at the 11th Annual Voodoo Music Experience in New Orleans, LA. Check out their website.

  • Impact! Water on the Moon?

    I dragged myself out of bed at 4:00 AM PST to await the impact of the LCROSS spacecraft on the moon. It was a beautiful night—not too cool with very clear skies. Despite the brightness of the moon, I saw Orion, Cassiopeia, the Pleiades, and more. I also saw my own shadow in the moonlight. (Infrared image of moon as LCROSS spacecraft approaches. Image from NASA TV.)

    I watched a live feed of NASA TV on my laptop out in the field. Shortly after impact, I looked through my 12.5 inch telescope. No plume. It was a long shot to see it, but I had to try. (Image of moon from the LCROSS spacecraft. Taken from NASA TV.)

    NASA will be analyzing the data for the next few days, with the earliest results coming within hours. They are looking for water and hydroxyls (oxygen-hydrogen with a covalent bond). The spacecraft crashed into the polar region where it is permanently shadowed and incredibly cold. If water is there, it would be permanently present as ice. Stay tuned! Water on the moon will not solve our global water crisis, but it will inform theories about the formation of the earth and moon.